On Butterflies, Forbidden Fruit and Discontent

Thoughts about my “Melt” post of a couple of days ago prompted a couple of email exchanges on discontent. We all struggle with “how things are” at times, and sometimes it seems quite raw. With little apologies, here are some moments from those emails…

When I was in first grade, I got chicken pox. Missed 10 days of school. Before I left there was a butterfly chrysalis in a terrarium over on the counter of the classroom near the windows. Every day we would check it. And wait. And wait.

When I came back to class, weary and still smelling faintly of Calamine lotion, I stepped over that first morning to sharpen my thick, green log pencil and saw it: the butterfly. It was perched on a limb in the terrarium and was slowly opening and closing its wings in the sunbeam.

I went into overload.

“COME LOOK!!! EVERYONE, COME AND SEE!!! SHE’S BEAUTIFUL!!! OH, SHE CAME OUT!!!” I divided my attention between this newly-hatched creature and my sullen classmates, alternately gasping at the terrarium and their unwillingness to move.

“She came out days ago,” one of my classmates said sullenly. “It took most of the day. We didn’t do any work. We just watched it happen…You missed it.”

I felt the teacher’s hand on my shoulder. I looked up at her. “I…missed it?” She told me to go sit down and that “there will be more butterflies.”

I never missed another day of school. Perfect attendance for all the rest of my years. All because I feared missing something.

All because, maybe, just maybe…there would be a butterfly that day.

Now, I feel the same. Like I have missed something. Like I am just now discovering that I’m behind. Like I was forgotten. And I keep waiting for the butterfly.

I’m trying to learn to be content and still have desires. Not doing that well. It feels like I have to give the desires more rein to run or try to kill them so they will be still.

And all the while I feel like much of my life may have been wasted on my desires…like watching the dried husk of a chrysalis trying to discern movement.

I agonized for a long, long time lying in the dark the other night. I was thinking about Adam and Eve and how, even in the perfection of the Garden and walking in perfect relationship with God, they bought Satan’s lie that there was more to be had because God had held out on them. Maybe that was part of Satan’s fall as well: trying to become like the Almighty because he thought something more was to be had, something better than what was, than the parameters He set, the roles He established. His blessings were not enough. And now, since their sin of trying to gain more, we content ourselves with less than God desires for us and fret over not having enough of what we want.

Maybe discontent is a longing for Eden…or maybe it is the original sin.

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